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Book and DVD Reviews


Garden Allies

The Insects, Birds & Other Animals That Keep Your Garden Beautiful and Thriving

In Garden Allies, author Frederique Lavoipierre encourages a perspective shift towards the critters in our gardens. Instead of thinking of garden inhabitants as good or bad, she encourages us to think of them in their ecological roles, with a food-web perspective. What results is a book jam-packed with identification clues, gardening guidance, and stories that had me penciling exclamation points in the margins.

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HH bee cover 

BEES: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide

Reviewed by Bruce Wenning

Heather Holm has written another beautiful book for pollinator gardening enthusiasts. She combines Jane Goodall’s style of long-term field observations with library research. Her photographs and illustrations capture your interest and increase your appreciation for bees, their natural history, and their host plants.

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Bellevue University native gardens.  

A New Garden Ethic

By Benjamin Vogt

Based on the number of genetically unique ecological niches, the loss of overall biodiversity is our most significant threat to a livable world. Loss of habitat can be partially overcome if species move and share their genetic material. Diverse and linked ecosystems that allow migration are crucial, acting as a climate change buffer by helping as many species as possible adapt.


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Echinochloa walteri ( Coast barnyard grass) Photo by Anton A. Reznicek

Grasses, Sedges, Rushes

By Lauren Brown and Ted Elliman

Grasses are everywhere. They cover vast areas of the earth, yet they also grow out of the cracks of city sidewalks. Yet few people – even those who are passionately interested in nature – take the trouble to learn the names of grasses. Here are but a few types of grasses, sedges, and rushes to whet your appetite to discover the wonders of these plant species

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Community Eco-Gardens

By Dennis Swiftdeer Paige

In his book Community Eco-Gardens, Dennis Swiftdeer Paige brings an optimistic and can-do attitude to his twenty-year project of creating a native landscape in a five-acre condo complex outside of Chicago. Paige, always entranced by the natural world, gradually develops a native natural habitat in his residential Town Square Condominium Complex.


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Finding Mother Earth

By Suzanne Simard

Working to solve the mysteries of what made the forests tick, and how they are linked to the earth and fire and water, made me a scientist. I watched the forest, and I listened. I followed where my curiosity led me, I listened to the stories of my family and people, and I learned from the scholars. I poured everything I had into becoming a sleuth of what it takes to heal the natural world. 

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Grasses, Sedges and Rushes 

Book Review: Grasses, Sedges, Rushes: An Identification Guide

Reviewed by Charlie Wyman 

Grasses have always scared me. Too many species, the flowers too small, the terminology strange and unfamiliar. As an amateur naturalist and very part-time at that, as the demands of work and family limited my wanderings, I had come to terms with the fact that I’d die without knowing my grasses. No longer. Lauren Brown and Ted Elliman’s little book, Grasses, Sedges, Rushes: An Identification Guide, has changed everything. 

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Book Review: The Nature of Oaks

Reviewed by Maureen Sundberg

In The Nature of Oaks, Doug Tallamy hopes to encourage appreciation of the diversity in the web of life by focusing on a single tree that began as an acorn he planted in a pot and transplanted into his yard. Now 18 years old, still very young for an oak tree, Tallamy observes the tree and the many forms of life it supports then shares a month-by-month record of a few visitors.

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Farming While Black

By Leah Penniman

I never imagined that I would become a farmer. In my teenage years, as my race consciousness evolved, I got the message loud and clear that Black activists were concerned with gun violence, housing discrimination, and education reform, while white folks were concerned with organic farming and environmental conservation.

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UConn Native and Sustainable Plant Guide_Page_08 

Connecticut Native Plant and Sustainable Landscaping Guide

By Victoria Wallace and Alyssa Siegel-Miles

Interest in native plants and sustainable landscaping has exploded over the last decade. Through our UConn Extension Sustainable Turf & Landscape program, we provide practical science-based information to support the sustainability goals of Connecticut green industry professionals and home gardeners. With that in mind, we developed a free online guide of 44 pages of plant lists for every location matched with vibrant photographs.

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